In January of 2009, Bill and I visited Tateyama, Japan for a marathon. We picked Tateyama because it is a sister city to Bellingham, and before we embarked on our trip, we contacted members of the Sister Cities association in Tateyama and told them we were coming. To this day, when people ask us what our favorite marathon was, we both agree that the Tateyama Marathon is our number one!

We were given a royal welcome in Japan, as if we were old friends returning from a long absence. In fact, we were old friends, though it was our first time in Tateyama. Bellingham and Tateyama have been sister cities for over fifty years and the relationship between the two cities was mirrored in the attention shown to us upon our arrival.

The marathon course in Tateyama was spectacular. We had a view of Mt. Fuji for several miles and perfect cool weather for the whole race, but the reason we loved this race more than any other is because of Tateyama’s citizens. For 26.2 miles, people lined the streets yelling encouragements, applauding, waving and offering refreshments. I’ve never smiled so much during a marathon.

Why am I reminiscing just now? It’s because I just found out that two Tateyama runners will be coming to Bellingham for the Bellingham Bay Marathon (BBM)!  Now we’ll have the privilege of returning the hospitality and friendship that was offered to us! One runner will do the half-marathon on September 26 and the other will do the full marathon. The Bellingham Sister Cities Association sent out an invitation for them to come this year and the BBM has offered to take care of their entry fees.

It’s only one month away till our visitors arrive. If any of my readers are interested in hosting, meeting or hanging out with our old friends (who we’ll be meeting for the first time, too), just send me a shout out. The Bellingham Bay Marathon has also offered to provide two “companion” entry fees, so we need one full-marathoner and one half-marathoner to step up to the plate (or the starting line, as it were). It’s time to break out the sake!

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